Guess Which Network Has Been Blocking "SayNoToBell.ca" TV Ads?
Twenty-six days after being asked, CTV has finally broadcast its first television commercial opposing its parent company's ambitions to control an even greater portion of the Canadian broadcasting space.
Just over a month ago, the SayNoToBell.ca website and public information campaign were launched, seeking to raise public awareness regarding the concentration of power and other public policy issues associated with the proposed takeover of Astral Media Inc. by Bell Canada.
Through a national television, print, radio and online information campaign the coalition has reached Canadians of all walks of life, presenting hard facts concerning the proposed deal. So far, over 55,000 Canadians have visited the SayNoToBell.ca website to register their opposition to the proposed deal by sending emails to Ottawa decision-makers and signing an online petition.
On August 14, TV advertising space was requested of CTV, among several Canadian television networks, on a fully-paid commercial basis. TV ads were produced, in English and French, and submitted to the Telecaster Services of the Television Bureau of Canada for the customary review and approval. The approved TV commercials were then provided to television broadcasters. Over the past few weeks, "Say No to Bell Canada" public awareness TV ads have been seen by viewers of almost every Canadian television network…but not on CTV outlets.
Viewers of CBC, CBC News Network, Global TV, Sun News, SRC, RDI, TVA and LCN have all had the opportunity to hear public messages opposing the proposed transaction.
Despite continuous efforts, such ads were not seen by any CTV viewers - until today, the very eve of tomorrow's historic CRTC hearing. As is well known, CTV ("Canada's most-watched television network") is a division of Bell Media ("Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital").
In its "diversity of voices" policy, the CRTC states: "Given the trend toward greater consolidation and the consequent impact on diversity of voices, a plurality of ownership in the private element is necessary in order to maximize the diversity of voices in the Canadian broadcasting system."1 The CRTC noted that the Broadcasting Act states that programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should "provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing points of view on matters of public concern."2
In written submissions to the CRTC, numerous interveners in this coming week's CRTC hearing have provided examples of Bell Canada already exercising its ability to exert control over broadcasting content and distribution. Many warn this situation will only get worse if Bell Canada is allowed to further increase its market dominance and control.
If the CRTC, Competition Bureau and federal government approve the proposed deal, Bell Canada would control:
42% of Canadian private commercial television programming revenues;
45% of English-language television audiences;
35% of French-language television audiences; 79 TV channels, 107 radio stations, more than 100 websites, which is twice as big as its nearest competitor;
38% of total advertising revenues from television and 31% from radio programming; and among national time sales, 40% and 38%, respectively.
Concerned Canadians can continue to voice their opposition to the deal by visiting the www.saynotobell.ca website and by sending emails via the website to Canada's Ministers of Heritage and Industry, the Competition Bureau, the CRTC and Members of Parliament.